Most dog and cat owners consider their pets to be part of the family, so when they’re looking for a place to live, they’re going to seek out pet-friendly housing arrangements..
In deciding whether to allow your tenants to have pets, there are a lot of factors to consider. While there is an element of risk in allowing pets to live on your rental property, there are several things you can do to significantly minimize that risk. Although having a “no pets” policy can simplify your life as a landlord, it can also potentially reduce your income and make it more difficult to keep rental units occupied.
When you consider that 38% of households own dogs and 25% own cats, the impact of prohibiting pets on your rental properties could be high. In all probability, not allowing pets would dramatically reduce the number of qualified applicants who contact you — many of whom may be responsible pet owners who own quiet, well behaved pets. Since the majority of Americans do consider pets part of their family, they comprise a demographic you might not want to turn away!
If you do decide to rent to dog and cat owners, there are several crucial questions to ponder:
- How much extra should you charge in the way of pet rent, returnable deposits, and/or non-returnable pet fees? Charging too much extra could be as detrimental to attracting tenants as not allowing pets at all, so careful thought should be given to pet-related fees. A reasonable pet security deposit would certainly make sense, since pets have been known to take their toll on everything from flooring, walls, and door finishes to landscaping and window treatments. Since pet personalities and behaviors vary as much as that of their owners, the challenge is to accurately predict which pets are going to cause the fewest (or no) problems.
- Another issue landlords grapple with is whether to exclude large dogs, multiple pets, or breeds that have a reputation as being “aggressive.” Certain breeds do tend to get bad press, and several insurance companies apparently do take those reports and statistical data very seriously. According to The Insurance Alliance, property owners or tenants seeking renters’ insurance may be denied coverage because of the specific types of dogs they own. Dogs that appear on “prohibited breeds” lists include Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, Chows, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Akitas, Siberian Huskies, Presa Canarios, and — not surprisingly — wolf-hybrids. If you feel uncomfortable about any of those breeds, you always have insurance industry statistics and policies to justify any restrictions.
- Information you might want to get from potential tenants — either verbally or in a rental application, might include questions about obedience training, dog licenses, and vaccination records. You can also inquire about how the dog acts around children, other pets, visitors, and neighbors. Contacting previous landlords often reveals dog behavioral problems that the owner might not be inclined to bring up. Another way you can gain insight into the pet’s temperament is by arranging to meet the dog. If the applicant has any reservations about this, then that’s clearly a red flag about the dog’s behavior. (It probably says a few negative things about the prospective tenant’s attitude, too!)
Advantages of Renting to Dog Owners
Assuming the potential tenant is a conscientious pet owner, there’s a good chance they’re responsible in other ways, too. People who own pets may also rent from you for longer periods of time because it’s not always easy to find pet-friendly places to live. They may also want to stay in one place longer to spare their dog the stress of having to move frequently and adjust to new environments. By being selective and making sure your rental agreement addresses all potential problems, the financial advantages of renting to dog and cat owners usually outweigh the risks.
Minimizing Risks of Renting to Pet Owners
The risks, which can run the gamut from incessant barking to negligent owners who don’t clean up after their pets, are often preventable or, at least, manageable. Careful tenant screening and periodic reminders can help keep problems to a bare minimum. Developing detailed terms and conditions for pet owners will provide you with the basis for issuing reminders, warnings, and, in some cases, ultimatums designed to protect your property, other tenants, and the quality of life in the neighborhood. A diplomatically worded letter, flyer, or email periodically reminding tenants of their responsibilities as pet owners should help heighten awareness and increase compliance.
By checking references, requiring pet security deposits, and being clear about acceptable pet behavior, you should be able to avoid many of the potential problems and expenses of renting to pet owners. Requiring tenants with dogs to get renters’ insurance that includes liability coverage can provide necessary protections to both you and them, in the event of property damage or dog-related bites or other injuries. Insurance policies, laws, and individual circumstances vary, so make sure to check with your insurance agent, attorney, or property management company for guidance and specific recommendations.
If you’d like to be a pet-friendly landlord, but don’t want to suffer the headaches that can accompany that management choice, PMI Miami Dade can help. As an example, one of our service guarantees says that we’ll see to it that your home will not be damaged by any approved pet. Other valuable property management services we offer include tenant screening, rent collection, property maintenance, financial reporting, and marketing. Our expertise can help you stay on top of your responsibilities as a landlord, without having to feel overwhelmed and stressed by problems and demands of the business. Call or email us today to inquire.